Technology has a way of sneaking up and becoming a permanent fixture in my daily routine.
I work from home, so my laptop is constantly around, with emails not-so-patiently waiting to be checked and documents longingly waiting to be tackled. I’m a member of Team iPhone, which means I have Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post, Tumblr, CNN, e-mail, and a barrage of other apps and tools glued to my hand and available at a moment’s notice.
Confession: I love being connected.
Confession: Sometimes too much.
In an attempt to unplug, I’ve been trying to read more before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling through Twitter feeds.
A 2011 study from the National Sleep Foundation found that 95 percent of Americans report very active technology use in the hour before trying to sleep. Almost everyone surveyed uses some type of electronics (think TV, computer, video games or cell phone) at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.
But, our Good Night iPhone routine isn’t so awesome for us. (Or, for the 35+ set, the nightly reliance on TV.)
“Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep,” says Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need.”
Since I’m preggo and sleep is extra important these days, pouring my iPhone nightcap down the drain seemed like a good idea.
Here’s what I’ve been reading (in…wait for it…print!).
What: Baby Catcher:Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent.
First thoughts: This is a good one, you guys! Peggy writes with authenticity, empathy and intelligence as she remembers her 40+ years in midwifery. I’m only through the first part, where she chronicles her experience in the ’60s + ’70s. I’m happy times have changed and excited to keep reading.
What: Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna
First thoughts: The Barna Group is one of the top research firms for insight into faith + culture. Its public opinion research is frequently quoted in major media outlets, such as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, etc. The book uses a series of surveys + personal interviews with both young adults and their parents to find what it takes to raise kids who are spiritual champions. We also nabbed a workbook to go with it. I like that it’s based on stats + research, but doesn’t eliminate the human aspect of parenting. Excited to dig in more!
What: 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed by Sherrie Eldridge
First Thoughts: I pretty much skimmed the entire book the evening I brought it home from the library. Sometimes adoption books freak me out by providing plenty of worst-case scenarios. Eldridge (who was domestically adopted in mid-century America) does a decent job of realistically guiding parents through tough scenarios without getting doomsday. Two critiques: I think sometimes her own experiences color her perspectives pretty heavily, and her writing could go for an extra dose of grace. That being said, there were nuggets I definitely bookmarked, wrote down, and read aloud to Jonny. If there’s anything I can do to be a better parent to Joseph (and any other kiddos who come into our family through adoption), then I am all about it!
You can probably sense a theme. A two-year-old toddler + baby on the way have me on the parenthood-book track. (But, I’d recommend Baby Catcher to any one — kids or not!)
What’s on your nightstand? What should I check out at the library?
Today, Orphan Sunday, I join many others in remembering + praying for so many children who are parentless.
I’m so thankful.
So thankful for all who dedicate time and service to forgotten ones via foster care, missions, acts of love, + so much more.
So thankful for the children who will never again carry the label orphan because of adoption.
So thankful that God is writing an amazing story through the life of our son, who doesn’t have our physical features but so surely has captured our hearts.
So thankful that through loss, there can be redemption. Thankful that there is beauty in the ashes. That a parentless child can join a family — forever.
So thankful that when the world says it’s impossible, God says it can be better than you can fathom.
Today, be encouraged that there is hope in a dark world.
Be encouraged that though the orphan statistics are deep + wide, even the life of one, down the street or across the globe, is worth more than many sparrows.
If you consider yourself devoted to Jesus, be encouraged that God can and will use you to be the hands + feet to the orphan…when you say yes. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, what your income level is or where your theology or political ideology places you, God is waiting for you to enter into the suffering + redemption of lives, which includes orphan care. He is calling you.
Can you hear it?
I pray for you as you open yourselves up to an amazing, supernatural narrative — that God’s great love for the orphan will echo in your lives as well.
- God is vested, deeply and personally, in the plight of the orphan (i.e. Dt 10:18; Ps 68:5-6).
- He calls His people to join Him in this, bringing to each parentless child the love of Jesus Christ in both word and deed (Is 1:17; James 1:27; Mt. 10:42; Mt. 25:40).
- Most importantly, the Gospel itself is the story of God’s rescue and adoption of us. On Orphan Sunday, the Church is reminded of this beautiful truth and urged to act upon it.
Maybe circumstances are not leading you to adoption, but if you hear those whispers, those soft indications and inklings that there is something more, please be encouraged and know that I would love to talk with you + join you in your journey.
Because I know from experience, God uses those who the world says, ‘Really? Them? But How?’’.
I know because I’ve tasted it.
May your surrender to his Kingdom result in the sweetest story worth living.
I know it will.
There are two things that make a cold, dreary day a little happier: frivolous pretty things, and free things. I hit the jackpot with free frivolous pretty things! (Thanks, Influenster.)
Today, for your reading pleasure, I review two of the fun items in my Beauty Vox Box.
1. Goody Simple Styles Spin Pins
What it is: Two metal springs that keep your hair in a bun, sans hair ties or bobby pins.
First thoughts: Cute idea, but totally not going to work in my layered, fairly thick hair.
How it works: Twirl your hair into a bun, then twist the pins into your hair. Done.
Tips: In the photo, I’m rocking a side bun. (For some reason I dubious about wearing a bun that I can’t see from the front. It feels like I have no hair. Is anyone else this neurotic?) The side bun didn’t hold up throughout the day, but I think that’s due to layers and running errands in the wind. To get my hair out of my face, I pulled my hair into a higher top knot, which stayed in place post-nap and into the evening.
The verdict: It took a couple tries, but it was a success! Perfect for achieving a pulled-together look in about a minute. I look forward to playing with the pins in the future for different looks. I’d rate the pins a B+. They’re $7.29 at your local store.
2. NYC New York Color IndividualEyes Custom Compact
What it is: Eyeshadow compact with four eyeshadows, one illuminator and one primer.
First thoughts: This stuff is cheap and isn’t going to stick!
Tips: I received the compact with a black/gray color palette. While I normally wear black eyeliner and mascara, I stick with easily blended neutral shadows. The first time I attempted a smokey eye with this compact, it was disastrous. I seriously looked like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Yikes. It came off easily, thankfully. Don’t put these on heavy handed! The next time I applied, I stuck witha light gray and a tiny dab of black smudged in the corner of my eye. Much better. I wore with Lancome eyeliner and Clinique mascara.
The verdict: For $5, it would be a fun way to add a little drama to your makeup bag. I really like the primer (it helps the shadow stay), and the gray is good for blending. The silver highlighter is a little too middle school for me, and it’s easy to go overboard and end up looking like a Kardashian after a long night out. I’d try it again in a more neutral color palette — the shadow is pretty pigmented, which isn’t always the case when it comes to drugstore makeup. Still, I think quality over quantity applies, which means I’ll probably spend a little more for one shadow and less chemicals rather than less for more shadows and more chemicals. I’d rate it a B-. It goes for $4.99 at most chain retailers.
I did a really hi-tech drawing with handwritten names on slips of paper. And yes, I did feel a bit like Effie Trinket. (What up, Hunger Games?!)
Thank you so much, to everyone who tweeted, shared on Facebook, blogged, watched the video, and donated.
We have power in our stories, and I think we’re all better off when we share them.
I’m so thrilled to offer an exclusive giveaway…and it’s a good one, you guys.
Not only are Natalie + Dan super talented (Dan is in med school + Natalie has a Master’s in social work), but they are extremely creative as well. (And humble — I’ve known Natalie for awhile, and I’ve never heard her brag about…anything.)
To offset the fees associated with adoption (click here to see a breakdown of how much it costs), they designed some screen-printed t-shirts. (Did I mention they’re newlyweds + only 24?!)
I’m so happy to offer the ‘Get You Here’ screenprinted art as the giveaway!
It was a test print, so it’s actually printed on a stiff, woven fabric. It could easy be framed, trimmed down, or hung on a cork board. (I really want to keep this for myself!)
Here are six different ways to gain entries to the giveaway. (Up your chances of winning by doing them all!)
- Tweet it. If you’re on Twitter (and if not, here’s your reason to join!) retweet this: ‘I’m helping an adoption by entering a giveaway to win a one-of-a-kind world map art print. You can, too: http://manysparrows.tumblr.com/post/33922831942/firstevergiveawaygetyouhereworldmapdesignprint #getyouhere’ (Twitter will automatically shorten the link, so you should have enough room.) Then, leave a comment letting me know you tweeted.
- Share it. It’s pretty incredible what can happen when we share our stories with each other. Copy + paste link to this post to your Facebook (http://manysparrows.tumblr.com/post/33922831942/firstevergiveawaygetyouhereworldmapdesignprint) and include this text: ‘I’m helping an adoption by entering a giveaway to win a one-of-a-kind world map art print. You can, too!’ Then, leave a comment letting me know you shared on Facebook.
- Watch it. Interested in why a newly-married young couple is adopting? Want to know why they’re adopting internationally? Curious about how the process works? Watch their charming Give1:Save1 video and leave a comment letting me know you’ve watched it (and what you learned from it or liked about it!).
- Blog it. If you fancy yourself a blogger, why not spread the word in a post? Share the link in a comment for an entry!
- Wear it. For $20, a buttery soft, custom-design (American Apparel) shirt can be yours! (Buy here.) All of the money goes toward adoption expenses. You can opt for a crew neck or v-neck. Check them out, and if you buy one (or two, or three, or four), leave comments letting me know. You’ll get an entry for each shirt you buy!
- Give it. If you feel led to bless them by helping financially via PayPal, I know from experience how beyond-words amazing it is to know there are strangers out there who are willing to give out of their hearts + pockets to help a family they might not even know. (Here’s why they’re adopting.) Give a little or a lot, don’t tell me how much, just leave a comment so I know you’ve contributed.
Please leave a comment for each entry. I’ll draw a winner Monday night at 7 p.m. CST and will notify the winner via a blog post.
And if you’re the praying type, I know your prayers for these two little ones are coveted most of all.
Ok, go! And share! Let’s not make this first giveaway a bust!
Our little guy had a bit of a rough morning. He had his two-year shots, which was not fun. (For him, the three nurses holding him down, or his emotional mommy.)
Thankfully, it was over fast and we were on our way home with promises of lots of chocolate.
Lately, he’s been into watching a cake-baking video clip from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (Yes, that Daniel Tiger from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He’s baaaack! Though, this time he’s animated and much cuter than the puppet of yesteryear.)
So, we baked some totally
not homemade still delicious brownies together.
Normally box brownies take about two minutes for me to prep. This took at least 20, and was much messier. (It definitely made me thankful I didn’t take the time following a recipe with him.)
It was fun.
We used the KitchenAid (speaking of KitchenAid, have you heard about this social media fiasco?) mixer to finish it up, but it was fun to see his wheels turning and he got a kick out of mixing the eggs into the mix.
He couldn’t taste the batter (Raw eggs. Jeez. I’m such a mom now.), but he was allowed to sneak a few butterscotch chips. Pure joy, my friends. Pure joy.
As I turned my back and stepped one foot away to the mixer, Joseph decided to take baking into his own hands and dumped the remaining butterscotch chips into the (already greased) pan. So that was fun!
It might have been messy, but it was totally worth it. Joseph and I (and let’s not forget Thomas the Train) had a pretty sweet time together. (See what I did there?)
I think he’s forgotten the pain of the shots.
And I’m totally excited to dig into those ultra-thick brownies.
As we were lying in bed last night, I confessed to Jonny that sometimes I don’t feel like a good enough mom. I love our little guy beyond words, and sometimes I feel like he deserves more.
That I should do more.
Create more learning activities. Make healthier food. Be more organized. The list goes on.
Like the awesome husband (and dad) that he is, Jonny reminded me that the best thing I can do for Joseph is ensure that he knows he is loved.
That by just doing our best to love, we are doing OK.
Serving more vegetables and creating a learning environment is great, but so are cuddles and hugs and high-fives and reminding your child that you love him, no matter what.
I fell asleep praying that above all else, I would radiate love. That Joseph would feel and know unconditional love.
This morning, our little two-year-old was watching Thomas the Train in the living room as I got ready in our room. I was putting on my shirt when Joseph threw open the door and tromped into the room. (Still working on boundaries.)
He saw my bare tummy, and playfully smacked it. I looked at him and said, “Oh, Joseph! Remember the baby! Where’s the baby?”
“Baby?” he asked, looking around the room.
“Remember,” I said, placing his chubby hand on my tummy, “there’s a baby growing in Mommy’s tummy.”
His big brown eyes looked up at me, and I could see his gears moving.
He took a moment, and leaned over, grasping his hands around my waist.
And then he planted the sweetest, softest, and longest kiss on my little bump.
At that moment, I could feel nothing but his love.
And at that moment, I knew that he knew he was loved.
Because when you know you’re loved, love flows through you.
He’s going to be a great big brother.
We recently moved, and part of turning our house our home has been the tiny tweaks and touches that come from DIY decor. The weather is gorgeous today, and we decided to take advantage of it by making our front door a little more welcoming, just in time for fall.
- Jonny repainted the door, which transformed it from a drab + scratched green to a warm + inviting red.
- A DIY yarn wreath with felt flowers adds some brightness to the door. (And the colors transition to winter pretty perfectly.)
- Straw stacks + mini pumpkins gave it a fall vibe without going too Country Home. No scarecrows here.
- The paint chip + scrapbook paper bunting (So easy! Just cut triangles, use hole punch, and add to yarn.) used to adorn my kitchen, but I haven’t found a place for it in our new abode. I decided to cut it in half and use it for some fun outdoor decor. (It’s under an awning, so it should be safe from the elements)
Amid migraine headaches + trips to the porcelain goddess, it’s easy dwell on pregnancy woes. I’m now 14 weeks along cookin’ this baby, and my clothes are starting to get a little tighter in the tummy. I know that’s supposed to happen (I’m talking to you, baby who’s the size of an orange!), but still, growing has been a not-so-fun adjustment. It’s hard to feel attractive when you have to inhale deeply and get into a funky yoga position just to button your jeans.
Last week, I was just feeling icky. Like, tired and grumpy but at the same time I was itching to get out and about. But in a small town, there aren’t a ton of places to go to get your extrovert-fix. I kept pulling a Little Mermaid and singing to Jonny, “I want to go, where the people are…I want to see, want to see them daaannnccciing!” (You know you connect with your inner-Ariel, too. No judging here.)
My pining paid off + we went to a nearby city to partake in some much-missed shopping. It just felt, how do I say it? AWESOME to get out and be around all sorts of different types of people. I love our new (very charming!) town, but I also love cities and noises and diversity, and of course, shopping. Speaking of shopping…
I’m sharing my 5 favorite (non-pregnancy!) things that have made me feel pretty while making that transition from first trimester to second trimester!
- Belly Bands. Thankfully, I discovered those belly bands I’ve always heard my friends gushing over. I opted for a tan one from Target, and it has been allowing me to wear all of my favorite (skinny!) jeans without buttoning them, and it also smooths out my little bump so it looks more like a baby bump and less like a burrito I had for lunch. I know, this one is a little bit pregnancy-related, but it allows me to avoid those awkward preggo pants, so I’m considering it a win. (And I know..that model in the pic looks weird. I don’t stand there wearing a one-piece bodysuit with my mouth gaping when I’m wearing the band.)
- Skinny Belts. I
stumbled acrosssearched for some how-to-dress-your-bump blog posts (via Pinterest, of course) and one of my fave tips was to utilize the skinny belt. I stocked up (3 for $10!) and have been loving the look so far. The key is to wear the belt under your chest and over your stomach to cutely frame your bump. It’s nice to feel like I don’t have to wear big shirts + for the most part I can still wear all of my non-maternity shirts, even the tight ones! (Thanks, belly band, for smoothing things out!)
- Slouchy Boots. Fall is my fave season, and boots are my fave type of shoe. I recently had to retire my tan boots I got 2 years ago from Old Navy for $25 (they were so awesome but also very cheaply made and I often got my foot stuck in them and Jonny had to pull them off…awkward). Anyway, they literally were falling apart, so it was time for some new ones! I decided to up the ante a bit and get some for a little (but not much) more money to hopefully up the quality. I finally settled on the Olsenboye Cale Slouch Boots. I love the camel color + I even got a belt to match. They look great with skinny jeans, leggings, and tights — perfect for fall layering!
- A good DIY mani. Thanks in part to my prenatal vitamins, my nails have been growing faster than I can keep up with them! And they’re strong, too! I don’t wear my nails that long, but I do enjoy painting them. After experimenting with many drugstore brands, I’ve found that it’s better to buy a more expensive brand, and just buy less of it. My recent Target trip left me with Essie’s Sand Tropez. I love the tan/grey color and it stayed on for almost a week with no chips (and that’s with washing my hands 24/7 and chasing after a toddler!) There’s no way I can afford to have my nails professionally done, but a nail file + 20 minutes of me time leads to pretty decent nails + a happier mommy, which is happier for everyone. :)
- Pretty jewelry. I’ve been eying the Chubby Bird Fossil necklace for a while, and on a whim, I found it clearanced for $11! Yay! I love the delicate chain, and as the blog title shows, I love what birds can symbolize. On days when I’m feeling frazzled, a pretty necklace dresses up my sleepy eyes and oatmeal-stained shirts.
So, there you go, ladies. Five girly things that have lifted my spirits lately.
Pregnant or not, do you you have some go-to garb for when you’re feelin’ low? I’d love to know!
I took an unplanned blogging hiatus for most of the summer/early fall. Amid packing, planning to move, moving, unpacking, working, entertaining a toddler 24/7, diving into a new ministry, and discovering that we are expecting (!!!), there hasn’t been a lot of leftover time to write.
Though all good things have kept me from blogging, I’m kind of bummed. Because I love writing.
But now that we’re settling into our new home and the morning sickness is subsiding, I’m eager to get back in the saddle. And luckily, having lots of busy transitions in life leads to a lot of blog fodder. (Plus, I don’t really have many new friends in our new small town, so…there’s gotta be time somewhere to write.)
A good sign that you’re a writer is that you have a deep desire to write. You need it. You pen memoirs in your head while changing diapers. (What? Just me?) For me, documenting my life on the World Wide Webs is more about therapy + transparency than it is about pageviews + rising to the top of the blogosphere.
(Which is great, because I’m pretty sure my readership is…lacking.)
From my energetic two-year-old’s antics to my big transition to small-town Iowa, I think I have enough inspiration for a somewhat entertaining blog.
So, join me?
I’ve always been a huge fan of iced tea. So refreshing with just a hint of caffeine, there is nothing quite like a tall glass of freshly brewed, unsweetened (yes, I just went there) iced tea.
Brewing it at home has always seemed kind of stressful and intimidating, until I tried these instructions. No sun or boiling water required, and this method works instantly (without having to use the kinda-gross-gritty-instant variety.
- Put in 2 teaspoons of loose tea or 2 tea bags for every cup (8 oz) of tea.
- Fill your pitcher or glass halfway with hot water.
- Let the tea steep for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on personal preference.
- Fill the pitcher or glass up the rest of the way with cold water, then take out the tea leaves or bags.
- Pour your tea over ice and serve.
I’ve been known to get real wild and mix it up with flavored teas. I recently tried Stash Tea Superfruits Tea sampler, and I’d recommend it! While some of the flavors were a little much (here’s lookin’ at you, blueberry), I thought they were super refreshing + a good non-soda, non-alcoholic, no-calorie option for a tasty summer drink! $3.50 for 18 bags of tea definitely beats shelling out the same amount of cash at Starbucks for one drink.
[Influenster provided me with a bar of Ivory soap for testing purposes, but thoughts are my own.]
When you think of Ivory soap, what do you think of? I remember my mom always saying, “So pure, it floats!” But other than that, I think of an outdated means of getting clean. In a world of 1,000 different types of body wash cluttering our shower, what’s the point of an old-school bar of soap?
I was kind of surprised of all of the ways a simple bar of soap can be used. Sometimes I get in a Pioneer-Woman-Laura-Ingalls-Wilder kick where I want to do things as simply + affordably as possible, so making laundry detergent is an option I’m looking forward to trying. I also can’t wait to microwave a bar + let Joseph dig in. (Cheap + clean entertainment, folks!)
So, without further ado, 5 things to do with Ivory soap:
- Homemade laundry detergent. With 3 ingredients + five minutes, you can have clean clothes without the chemicals (and price tag!).
- Blow it up in the microwave. Ivory soap is so “pure it floats” because of the air bubbles. Microwave it + the result is very similar to what happens when popcorn pops or when you try to microwave a marshmallow. Those air bubbles in the soap (or the popcorn kernels or the marshmallow) contain water and expand when heated in the microwave, making a giant cloud science experiment for kids. (Just be sure they don’t sneak some in their mouth!)
- DIY shampoo. Lacking shine? This blogger claims that vinegar + ivory soap do the trick. I’m a little dubious, but I’ve been hearing good things about shampoo alternatives, so it might be worth a shot!
- Bath crayons. If your little one needs an incentive to jump in the tub, these DIY bath crayons could be a lifesaver. Grab a grater, a bar of Ivory soap, some food coloring, and a little water, and go! These seem so easy + fun — and no strange chemicals, either!
- Facial cleanser. This blogger claims she tried all the good-for-you, all-organic facial cleansers, with no luck. On a whim, she went old school with a bar of Ivory soap, and it took care of her pizza face (haha, too much?). The thought of using bar soap on my face kind of weirds me out, but hey, whatever floats your boat. (Get it?! FLOATS!)
Also, I love the smell of this classic soap. :)
[Influenster and Ivory provided me with a bar of Ivory soap for testing purposes through the Mom VoxBox program, but thoughts are my own.]
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. Fear of letting go of comforts. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. Fear of being a hypocrite. Fear of missing out on the story God is writing. Fear of shouting too loudly. Fear of being too quiet. Fear of risking it all. Fear of losing it all. Fear of succumbing to fear.
Fear is a tricky thing.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the struggle than an American couple had/is having to finalize their adoption in Ghana. (If not, you can read about it here.) The things they’ve experienced (and probably are still experiencing) are scary, to say the least.
As soon as I found out that the family was getting detained, I shared a call for others to get on their knees + pray for everyone involved.
Fear reared its ugly head.
I heard these things about international adoption from people I love:
“It’s not even worth it.”
“Don’t you know this could have happened to you?!”
“International adoption just isn’t safe!”
I can tell you right now, with tears in my eyes, that it is worth it. It could have happened to me. And yes, this life isn’t safe. But we still step forward.
The Creator, and his created, are worth every sacrifice.And from experience, when awful things happen (and they will, because we live in a broken world), it is not the end. I’m just 24, and I have so much to learn, but something that I’m learning is that despite it all, the abundant blessings + joys that come from obedience and love is just…incredible.
I recently learned about Perpetua and Felicity, young women who were martyred in Rome in the third century. Their stories are incredible, and they exemplify courage.
In the year 203, Vibia Perpetua made the decision to become a Christian, although she knew it could mean her death during Septimus’ persecution.
Her father was frantic with worry and tried to talk her out of her decision. At 22 years old, this well-educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live — including a baby son who was still nursing. We know she was married, but since her husband is never mentioned, many historians assume she was a widow.
Perpetua’s answer was simple and clear. Pointing to a water jug, she asked her father, “See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?”
Her father answered, “Of course not.” Perpetua responded, “Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am — a Christian.”
This answer so upset her father that he attacked her. Perpetua reports that after that incident she was glad to be separated from him for a few days — even though that separation was the result of her arrest and imprisonment.
Perpetua was arrested with Felicity, who was her slave.
The prison was so crowded with people that the heat was suffocating. There was no light anywhere and Perpetua “had never known such darkness.” The guards were violent. Perpetua had no trouble admitting she was very afraid, but in the midst of all this horror her most excruciating pain came from being separated from her baby.
Felicity was even worse off for Felicity suffered the stifling heat, overcrowding, and rough handling while being eight months pregnant.
Two deacons who ministered to the prisoners paid the guards so that the martyrs would be put in a better part of the prison. When she received permission for her baby to stay with her “my prison suddenly became a palace for me.” Once more her father came to her, begging her to give in, kissing her hands, and throwing himself at her feet. She told him, “We lie not in our own power but in the power of God.”
When she and the others were taken to be examined and sentenced, her father followed, pleading with her and the judge. The judge, out of pity, also tried to get Perpetua to change her mind, but when she stood fast, she was sentenced with the others to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena.
Felicity was also in torment. It was against the law for pregnant women to be executed. To kill a child in the womb was shedding innocent and sacred blood. Felicity was afraid that she would not give birth before the day set for their martyrdom. Her friends also didn’t want to leave such “good a comrade” behind.
Two days before the execution, Felicity went into labor. Felicity said, “Now I’m the one who is suffering, but in the arena Another will be in me suffering for me because I will be suffering for him.”
She gave birth to a healthy girl who was adopted and raised by one of the Christian women of Carthage.
The Christians and their teacher went to the arena with joy and calm. Perpetua in usual high spirits met the eyes of everyone along the way. Ancient writings say she walked with
“shining steps as the true wife of Christ, the darling of God.”
The women were stripped to face a rabid cow. Perpetua and Felicity were thrown back into the arena so roughly that they were bruised and hurt. Perpetua, though confused and distracted, still was thinking of others and went to help Felicity up. The two of them stood side by side as their throats were cut.
Perpetua’s last words were to her brother: “Stand fast in the faith and love one another.”
[Story shortened from an abridged telling here. I suggest reading her journal entries yourself.]
Actually, I think that deserves another wow.
And maybe one more for good measure.
Puts things in perspective.
In the midst of such atrocities, in the middle of violence and agony, there is peace. We are refined by fire, and the picture of what losing your life to gain it is becoming so much more clear.
Not succumbing to fear doesn’t mean not having any, it means trusting something — someone — far greater. Not having trust in the what, where, or why, but having trust in the who. And seeing sacrificial love as an honor. A privilege.
Risking everything the world holds high isn’t logical. It doesn’t make sense. The world [and so many in the Church] asks, why? Why spend all of your money, time, emotions, status on
something someone not guaranteed? Why travel somewhere unsafe? Why adopt children when you can have a baby? Why bother with racial differences? Why? Why? Why?
I love what Jesus says to his disciples in John 14 when they’re asking him so many of whys:
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. [John 14:1-27, NIV, emphasis mine]
Doesn’t Jesus address so many of our fears? God is with us. God doesn’t give as the world gives. Some people won’t understand. Don’t let our hearts be troubled. Don’t be afraid. Obey. Follow him. He is here, he is mysterious, and he is good.
Like so many other life-altering experiences (marriage, divorce, disease, accidents, birth, death) international adoption addresses fear head-on.
When Jonny and I reflect on our experience with international/transracial adoption, so many intense emotions, memories, and fears are drudged up from that deep place inside of ourselves that rarely sees the light of day in polite conversation.
And through all of the tears, the fights, the past, present and future fears, I look at my son, toddling out of his bedroom, still in a nap-induced haze, with big eyes and a smile as he runs toward me with open arms.
Yes, he is worth it.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.
Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.
So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. [james 1:1-18, the message, emphasis mine]